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Re: [XTalk] Arabists' Challenge to Bailey's *haflat samar* Interpretation

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  • Jim West
    ... Speaking of Arabic- Joshua Sabih has just completed a doctoral dissertation at Copenhagen on the development of the Arabic language. Ted, if you want his
    Message 1 of 16 , Sep 8, 2006
      At 04:53 PM 9/8/2006, you wrote:
      >Ted,
      >My response is as an anthropologist. Dictionary definitions are supposed to
      >be normative. They often have to offer secondary definitions where more
      >than one usage is common. Normative definitions are most useful when the
      >speech community is homogenous, in both space and time. You have a
      >scholar's definition that relies on a widely used dictionary of Arabic.
      >What I would want to know from each of your sources, as an anthropologist,
      >is which literary and speech communities are their primary sources? By this
      >I mean geographical referents (such as "Egyptian Arabic" or "Iraqi Arabic")
      >as well as class variants ( Literary Arabic, urban street Arabic, rural
      >desert Arabic) and sectarian variants (e.g., Shi'ite vs. Sunni vs.
      >Wahhabi). The Arabic speech community is widely dispersed, and local usages
      >may vary. One definition may not fit all Arabic speech communities now, let
      >alone 100 years ago. There can be Arabic apples and Arabic oranges, and its
      >best not to equate them.


      Speaking of Arabic- Joshua Sabih has just completed a doctoral
      dissertation at Copenhagen on the development of the Arabic
      language. Ted, if you want his email address drop me an offlist note
      and I will send it.

      Best

      Jim



      Jim West, ThD

      http://web.infoave.net/~jwest -- Biblical Studies Resources
      http://petrosbaptistchurch.blogspot.com -- Weblog

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Horace Jeffery Hodges
      ... desert Arabic) and sectarian variants (e.g., Shi ite vs. Sunni vs. Wahhabi). The Arabic speech community is widely dispersed, and local usages may vary.
      Message 2 of 16 , Sep 8, 2006
        Bob Schacht wrote:

        >>My response is as an anthropologist. Dictionary definitions are supposed to be normative. They often have to offer secondary definitions where more than one usage is common. Normative definitions are most useful when the speech community is homogenous, in both space and time. You have a scholar's definition that relies on a widely used dictionary of Arabic. What I would want to know from each of your sources, as an anthropologist, is which literary and speech communities are their primary sources? By this I mean geographical referents (such as "Egyptian Arabic" or "Iraqi Arabic") as well as class variants ( Literary Arabic, urban street Arabic, rural
        desert Arabic) and sectarian variants (e.g., Shi'ite vs. Sunni vs. Wahhabi). The Arabic speech community is widely dispersed, and local usages may vary. One definition may not fit all Arabic speech communities now, let alone 100 years ago. There can be Arabic apples and Arabic oranges, and its best not to equate them.<<

        This alone would radically call into question Bailey's use of Haflat Samar even if he happened to be correct about its meaning in one place at one time.

        If the term -- and the practice -- can vary so much even among Arabs, then what use is it for extrapolating back to an oral phase in the transmission of the Jesus tradition?

        Jeffery Hodges


        University Degrees:

        Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
        (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
        M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
        B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

        Email Address:

        jefferyhodges@...

        Blog:

        http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/

        Office Address:

        Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
        Department of English Language and Literature
        Korea University
        136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
        Seoul
        South Korea

        Home Address:

        Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
        Sehan Apt. 102-2302
        Sinnae-dong 795
        Jungrang-gu
        Seoul 131-770
        South Korea

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Bob Schacht
        ... Now wait, Jeffery, let s not jump to conclusions. What Ted s Arabists told him was all the same thing, and all disagreed with Bailey. The thrust of my
        Message 3 of 16 , Sep 9, 2006
          At 02:31 PM 9/8/2006, Horace Jeffery Hodges wrote:

          >Bob Schacht wrote:
          >
          > >>My response is as an anthropologist. Dictionary definitions are
          > supposed to be normative. They often have to offer secondary definitions
          > where more than one usage is common. Normative definitions are most
          > useful when the speech community is homogenous, in both space and time.
          > You have a scholar's definition that relies on a widely used dictionary
          > of Arabic. What I would want to know from each of your sources, as an
          > anthropologist, is which literary and speech communities are their
          > primary sources? By this I mean geographical referents (such as "Egyptian
          > Arabic" or "Iraqi Arabic") as well as class variants ( Literary Arabic,
          > urban street Arabic, rural
          >desert Arabic) and sectarian variants (e.g., Shi'ite vs. Sunni vs.
          >Wahhabi). The Arabic speech community is widely dispersed, and local
          >usages may vary. One definition may not fit all Arabic speech communities
          >now, let alone 100 years ago. There can be Arabic apples and Arabic
          >oranges, and its best not to equate them.<<
          >
          >This alone would radically call into question Bailey's use of Haflat Samar
          >even if he happened to be correct about its meaning in one place at one time.
          >
          >If the term -- and the practice -- can vary so much even among Arabs, then
          >what use is it for extrapolating back to an oral phase in the transmission
          >of the Jesus tradition?


          Now wait, Jeffery, let's not jump to conclusions. What Ted's Arabists told
          him was all the same thing, and all disagreed with Bailey. The thrust of my
          point was this: Can this disagreement be traced to regional or sectarian
          differences, or is Bailey the only odd ball out?

          For example, Bailey's speech community of reference was Egyptian, ca. 1900,
          rural(?), and perhaps Christian.

          So the question for Weeden's sources is this: does their expertise about
          the meaning of haflat samar include *Egyptian* usage with contexts similar
          to those to which Bailey was appearing? The point here is whether or not a
          case could be made that Bailey's Egyptian Arabs attached a different
          meaning than that current elsewhere.

          If Ted's expert consultants can be shown somehow to NOT encompass rural
          Egyptian villages, in view of their relative unanimity, one is also
          entitled to ask WHY the Egyptian usage differed so much from the rest.

          Furthermore, Bailey was trying to make a case that it wasn't just his
          village that did this. It was *Bailey* who was trying to make the case that
          the haflat samar was standard operating procedure that could be
          extrapolated back 2000 years and could be applied to early Christian
          communities throughout the MIddle East. I think Ted's research on this
          point shows rather conclusively that, once again, Bailey's dog won't hunt.

          It may be that Bailey's "informal controlled oral tradition" exists, but he
          has failed to fully identify and accurately describe it.

          Bob

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Theodore J. Weeden, Sr.
          ... Bob, and others, I had to go out of town yesterday afternoon and have tried to reply to the posts I have received via crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, but my
          Message 4 of 16 , Sep 9, 2006
            --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, Bob Schacht <r_schacht@...> wrote:
            >
            > At 06:35 AM 9/8/2006, Theodore Weeden wrote:
            > >Dear Listers,
            > >
            > >I need your help.
            >
            > [much snipped]

            Bob, and others, I had to go out of town yesterday afternoon and have
            tried to reply to the posts I have received via
            crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, but my attempts at replying, beginning
            with your post, Bob, somehow, keep getting screwed up. In
            frustration, I have decided to wait until I get back, hopefully by
            late today,to reply to you and others.

            Ted
          • Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP
            I m sorry, but there seems to be a fundamental problem with stereotyping Wisconsin Muslims within an intellectual category that can be retrojected two thousand
            Message 5 of 16 , Sep 9, 2006
              I'm sorry, but there seems to be a fundamental problem with stereotyping Wisconsin Muslims within an intellectual category that can be retrojected two thousand years back into history as representative of those hearers of the original spoken (chanted) gospels.

              We must realize that the 21st century cannot shed as much light as we would like upon the 1st.

              ------------------------------------------------------------
              Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP, Hon. ASLA
              edmiston@...
              ------------------------------------------------------------
              Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου μετὰ πάντων.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Theodore Weeden
              ... [snip] ... Bob, I agree that dictionary definitions are considered normative for a given language, and often supply secondary defintions to account for
              Message 6 of 16 , Sep 10, 2006
                Bob Schacht wrote on September 08, 2006:

                > At 06:35 AM 9/8/2006, Theodore Weeden wrote:
                >>Dear Listers,
                >>
                >>I need your help.
                >
                > [much snipped]
                >
                >>The problem that I am now addressing is problem that I have discovered
                >>with
                >>Bailey's definition and interpretation of the Arabic phrase *haflat
                >>samar*,
                >>so foundational and indispensable to his theory. . . .
                >>
                >>In those interviews, I was given a different definition and culturally
                >>contextual interpretation of *haflat samar*.. According to these native
                >>Middle East persons *haflat samar* means a "gathering for amusement or
                >>entertainment." Their translation of *haflat* was consistent with
                >>Bailey's. But they offered a significantly different translation of
                >>*samar*. ... the Arabic term *samar* means literally "nightly" or
                >>"darkly" . . .and that *samar* also conveys the meaning of nightly
                >>conversations, talks or
                >>chats at night or at darkness.
                >>
                >>Furthermore, she told me that a *haflat samar* is an occasion when people
                >>gather together at night to hear stories about historical events or
                >>personages, with the emphasis being placed upon telling such stories for
                >>entertainment or amusement. Thus, the primary purpose of telling these
                >>stories is not to pass on historically authentic and authoritative,
                >>factual
                >>information about events and personages, but rather to entertain those
                >>gathered, . . .

                [snip]

                > Ted,
                > My response is as an anthropologist. Dictionary definitions are supposed
                > to
                > be normative. They often have to offer secondary definitions where more
                > than one usage is common. Normative definitions are most useful when the
                > speech community is homogenous, in both space and time.

                Bob, I agree that dictionary definitions are considered normative for a
                given language, and often supply secondary defintions to account for where a
                particular culture using that language as a native language imputes its own
                idiosyncratic vernacular meanings to a term that exceeds the bounds of
                normative definition and may even be rhetorically in tension with the
                normative. A good example comes from my childhood. I grew up in the South
                where in refined and polite culture it was customary to use the word "shoot"
                as an exclamation in frustration. disgust, etc. "Shoot" was obviously an
                only slightly veiled substitute for the four-letter expletive referring to
                feces (fearing violation of list protocal, I shall not explicitly cite
                word). The power of the word "shoot" in such refined and polite settings
                was that it was phonetically close enough to the four-letter expletive to
                make it unmistakably clear that it was the word one really meant, but in a
                bow to the honor of polite southern culture one abstained from using in
                public.

                It is interesting that my _Webster Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary_
                provides some 59 normative and secondary definitions of "shoot," but it
                fails to cite the usage of the word as an exclamation, and, of course, does
                not include the four-letter expletive, the phonetic cousin of "shoot," among
                words it has chosen to define. The Oxford English Dictionary does,
                interestingly enough, in its multi-page list of definitions for "shoot" does
                cite a definitive use of shoot (#18) as: "to eject from the body, . . . to
                discharge (excreta)." But the _OED_ does not as far as I can tell cite the
                usage of "shoot" as an expletive. It does, however, list the aforementioned
                four-letter expletive among the words it defines, but, as far as I can tell,
                makes no connection between "shoot" and its phonetic cousin."

                My point is to support your point. Dictionary definitions of a word may not
                take into consideration community-specific idiosyncratic connotations given
                to the word. Consequently, without interviewing the people of the southern
                Egyptian Hogg-founded, Christian communities to determine what nuanced
                meaning they give/gave to the Arabic *samar*, we cannot rule out the
                possibility that they used the word *samar* not only to mean a nightly
                conversation, but, also, a conversation on certain matters presented to
                insure their "preservation" from generation to generation.

                However, that said, Bailey states that the definition he gives to *samar*
                (i.e. "to preserve") is supported by the fact that the Arabic *samar* is a
                cognate of the Hebrew word *shamar* (i.e., "to preserve"). Thus, that
                linguistic phenomenon is analogous, if you permit me, to "shoot" and its
                phonetic expletive-cousin: i.e, since *shamar* and *samar* are so closely
                related phonetically, *samar* in the Hogg-founded communities took on the
                meaning of its antecedent phonetic cousin. But, in my judgment, such a
                connection is problematic for several reasons. First, linguistically,
                where is the evidence that the Arabic *samar* is etymologically derived from
                the Hebrew *shamar*? Second, what or who would have led the Hogg-founded
                communities, oral societies, to make such a connection between the Hebrew
                *shamar* and the Aramaic *samar*? Bailey does not refer to or allude to
                the communities making such a connection. Third, in any case, Rena Hogg in
                her biography of her father, John Hogg (*A Master Builder on the Nile__),
                and I must re-read her biography to confirm this, never speaks, in any case,
                of the Hogg-founded communities which she visited in 1910 holding nightly
                meetings *to preserve* her father's tradition. To the contrary, she
                suggests in her prologue (p. 14) that rather than faithfully and accurately
                preserving the tradition of her father, legendary stories about her father
                had proliferated to such an extent in the communities that she feared "there
                is danger that the message of his life may be lost under a tangled mass of
                fact and fiction."

                > You have a
                > scholar's definition that relies on a widely used dictionary of Arabic.
                > What I would want to know from each of your sources, as an anthropologist,
                > is which literary and speech communities are their primary sources? By
                > this
                > I mean geographical referents (such as "Egyptian Arabic" or "Iraqi
                > Arabic")
                > as well as class variants ( Literary Arabic, urban street Arabic, rural
                > desert Arabic) and sectarian variants (e.g., Shi'ite vs. Sunni vs.
                > Wahhabi). The Arabic speech community is widely dispersed, and local
                > usages
                > may vary. One definition may not fit all Arabic speech communities now,
                > let
                > alone 100 years ago. There can be Arabic apples and Arabic oranges, and
                > its
                > best not to equate them.

                In my sharing of information provided me by Devin Stewart, I did note that
                Martin Hinds and El-Said Badawi's _A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic_
                (Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1986), a dictionary of modern Egyptian dialect,
                has this entry on p. 429: "*h.aflit [the Egyptian dialectal pronunciation of
                *h.aflat* or *haflat*, per Stewart] *samar*, an evening party or gathering
                in the open air (usually around a camp-fire); verb *saamir*, *yisaamir*,
                to spend the evening with (s.o.) in pleasant conversation, etc.;
                *musamra*/*misamara*, evening spent in conversation with friends."

                Thus, as far as Egyptian Arabic is concerned, the meaning of *samar* is the
                same as was reported to me by all my interviewees. In fact, Nihal
                Shahbandar, a native Lebanese woman who lives now in Appleton, Wisconsin,
                and my first telephone interviewee, wrote me after that interview and
                reported that she had made a number of telephone calls to Middle East people
                living in Wisconsin to ask them what their recollections were of a *haflat
                samar* in their native lands. She stated in her e-mail of 5/19/04 that the
                Egyptians she spoke with recalled *hafalat samar* as "very amusing, funny,
                and popular. They use [in *hafalat samar*] simple poems,and old songs,to
                tell stories to preseve the traditions, but they are fictional with very
                little truth, and they are used to inspire people. The performers are
                extremely funny and talented in attracting the audience and they are masters
                in coloring any background to please any nationality. I have been told that
                those shows are not very popular with religious groups (Muslims or Coptics).
                That is the information I collected today from Egyptians living in USA, and
                they say it is still going on, but becoming less popular."

                Following my initial telephone interview with Nihal Shahbandar, I sent her
                three pages from the manuscript of my critique of Bailey in which I
                presented Bailey's theory of informal controlled oral tradition, his
                discovery of the methodology used for preserving the authenticity of oral
                tradition in the 1950's and 60's in the Hogg-founded communities, and the
                "rules" he claimed obtained in a *haflat samar* governing the recitation of
                oral tradition. I asked her for her response to what Bailey presents.
                She e-mailed back on 5/24/04:

                "Mr Bailey discribtions [sic] of what he wittnesed in (Haflat Samar) brought
                back so many good memories in my mind, I attended so may gathering like this
                where old time was brought to life, with its proverbs, poems, old stories,
                and music filling the air, every person attanded [sic] was so pleased, and
                tried never to miss any coming occasions. the intention of attending
                gatheing [sic] like this was to spend good time, it is very authentic way of
                entertainment."

                Then she went on to respond to one of the footnotes in the material I sent
                her, which in part read as follows:, beginning with a quote from Bailey:

                "I have often told well-known village stories to classes of Middle Eastern
                theological college students. People from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and
                Palestine have usually heard the same stories. I have watched the
                students instinctively form the controlling community and together explain
                to me the acceptable boundaries for a given story" (ET, 366).

                Bailey reports one such experiment in full in his AJT article (44f.). In
                that experiment, he told the class a story which he recited from memory, a
                story he had heard ten years before (see 42-44) and a story which the
                students themselves knew only via oral tradition. When the students
                affirmed that he had correctly recited the story, Bailey proceeded to ask
                them to tell him "what must be present in the recitation for them to sense
                that [he] was telling the story correctly." The students produced, as
                Bailey articulates, the following list of what had to be included in the
                telling of the story for it to be told correctly, and I quote him fully:

                "The proverb that appeared in the story had to be repeated verbatim. The
                three basic scenes [of the story] could not be changed, but the order could
                be reversed without triggering the community rejection mechanism. The basic
                flow of the story and its conclusion had to remain the same. The names
                could not be changed. The summary punch line was inviolable. However, the
                teller could vary the pitch of the traveler's emotional reaction to Shann
                [two characters in the story], and the dialogue within the flow of the story
                could at any point reflect the individual teller's style and interests.
                That is, the story teller had a certain freedom to tell the story in his own
                way as long as the central thrust of the story was not changed. So here
                was continuity and flexibility. Not continuity and change. The distinction
                is important. Continuity and change could mean that the story teller could
                change say 15% of the story - any 15%. Thus after seven transmissions of
                the story theoretically *all* of the story could be changed. But
                *continuity* and *flexibility* mean that the main lines of the story
                *cannot* be changed at *all*. The story can endure one different
                transmission through a chain of a hundred and one different people and the
                inner core of the story remains intact. Within the structure, the
                storyteller has flexibility within limits to 'tell his own way'" (all
                emphases: Bailey).

                Nihal Shahbandar continued her e-mail to me with this response to my
                footnote:

                "The question of how true it [what is recited in a *halfat samar*] is,was
                best answered from Mr. Bailey " Continuity and and change could mean that
                the storyteller could change say 15% of the story...." 15% yeary [sic]
                leaves only fiction in 100 years. So when we go to those gathering , we
                go to have good time, away from the painful present to a heavinly [sic]
                past not searching its true reality or authenticity,or how heavnly [sic]
                this past was when it was present."

                Contrary to Bailey, she apparently understood that continuity leading to
                *change* to the point of total fictionalization of stories was not
                unexpected over generations in a *haflat samar*, rather than *continuity and
                flexibility*, which Bailey argues obtains in a *halfat samar* in order to
                preserve the authentic historical core elements of the recitation of
                stories. From her point of view, the ultimate purpose of a *haflat samar*
                was for entertainment and escape from "the painful present.*

                She closed her e-mail of 5/24.04 with the following:.

                "If you ask any *Arabic speaking person* [emphasis: Nihal Shahbandar] to
                tell you what is the meaning of SAMAR the answers will be: ( having good
                time), (meeting with people talking, drinking, dancing),
                (entertainment),(time spend with a lot of fun and amusement). *From the
                Arabic Dictionary* [emphasis: Nihal Shahbandar]: samar: (Talking with other
                at night), (Talking at night about stories, Poems, ext), (Talking under moon
                light)."

                I return to your post to me, Bob, where you state the following:

                > Of course, it is also possible that Bailey's definition is filtered
                > through
                > rose colored glasses. And, the Haflat Samar that he experienced may not
                > have been typical.

                That is true, Bob. It must have been extraordinarily atypical. What I do
                not understand is why Bailey never reports in either of his articles that he
                consulted with native authorities in the respective *hafalat samar* he
                attended to check to see if what he observed and theorized from them was in
                fact the case, i.e., the indispensable commitment to preserve the
                historical authenticity of oral tradition. Furthermore, it strikes me as
                strange that he develops his list of flexible and unalterable elements in
                story telling from a classroom experiment with students and not from
                interviews with native authorities in the Hogg-founded communities. It is
                even more striking that his students from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and
                Palestine in his classes would "instinctively form the controlling community
                and together explain to me the acceptable boundaries for a given story,"
                when the people from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt which were interviewed in my
                inquiry about *haflat samar* did not report any controlling dynamic
                exercised in their experience of *haflat samar*. Nihal Shahbandar implicity
                suggests there was none.

                Kelber and Vansina do report that an element of control is exercised in oral
                societies to insure that the oral tradition is preserved to support social
                identity, and that preventive censorship is exercised on the oral tradition
                (whether historically authentic to its originating roots or not) if issues
                of social identity in any moment of a community's existence necessitate it.
                As I remember, Vansina reports that what may be considered to be authentic
                tradition by one community authority may be replaced in a future generation
                by an authority who has his own view of what is to be considered authentic,
                regardless of whether it has any roots in historicity.

                As an anthropologist, Bob, what do you make of all of this.?

                Thanks for your response on this matter.instinctively form a controlling
                group

                Ted
                Theodore J. Weeden, Sr.
                Fairport, NY
                Retired
                Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University
              • Bob Schacht
                ... [snip] ... [snip] ... [snip] ... Well, this might not be good math. The 15% implies that 85% is preserved. So the progression would go: 85% of 85% of
                Message 7 of 16 , Sep 11, 2006
                  At 12:28 PM 9/10/2006, Theodore Weeden wrote:


                  >Bob Schacht wrote on September 08, 2006:
                  > > At 06:35 AM 9/8/2006, Theodore Weeden wrote:

                  [snip]


                  > > Ted,
                  >. . . Dictionary definitions of a word may not
                  >take into consideration community-specific idiosyncratic connotations given
                  >to the word. Consequently, without interviewing the people of the southern
                  >Egyptian Hogg-founded, Christian communities to determine what nuanced
                  >meaning they give/gave to the Arabic *samar*, we cannot rule out the
                  >possibility that they used the word *samar* not only to mean a nightly
                  >conversation, but, also, a conversation on certain matters presented to
                  >insure their "preservation" from generation to generation.
                  >
                  >However, that said, Bailey states that the definition he gives to *samar*
                  >(i.e. "to preserve") is supported by the fact that the Arabic *samar* is a
                  >cognate of the Hebrew word *shamar* (i.e., "to preserve"). Thus, . . .
                  >since *shamar* and *samar* are so closely
                  >related phonetically, *samar* in the Hogg-founded communities took on the
                  >meaning of its antecedent phonetic cousin. But, in my judgment, such a
                  >connection is problematic for several reasons. First, linguistically,
                  >where is the evidence that the Arabic *samar* is etymologically derived from
                  >the Hebrew *shamar*? Second, what or who would have led the Hogg-founded
                  >communities, oral societies, to make such a connection between the Hebrew
                  >*shamar* and the Aramaic *samar*? Bailey does not refer to or allude to
                  >the communities making such a connection. Third, in any case, Rena Hogg in
                  >her biography of her father, John Hogg (*A Master Builder on the Nile__),
                  >and I must re-read her biography to confirm this, never speaks, in any case,
                  >of the Hogg-founded communities which she visited in 1910 holding nightly
                  >meetings *to preserve* her father's tradition. To the contrary, she
                  >suggests in her prologue (p. 14) that rather than faithfully and accurately
                  >preserving the tradition of her father, legendary stories about her father
                  >had proliferated to such an extent in the communities that she feared "there
                  >is danger that the message of his life may be lost under a tangled mass of
                  >fact and fiction."

                  [snip]

                  >In my sharing of information provided me by Devin Stewart, I did note that
                  >Martin Hinds and El-Said Badawi's _A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic_
                  >(Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1986), a dictionary of modern Egyptian dialect,
                  >has this entry on p. 429: "*h.aflit [the Egyptian dialectal pronunciation of
                  >*h.aflat* or *haflat*, per Stewart] *samar*, an evening party or gathering
                  >in the open air (usually around a camp-fire); verb *saamir*, *yisaamir*,
                  >to spend the evening with (s.o.) in pleasant conversation, etc.;
                  >*musamra*/*misamara*, evening spent in conversation with friends."
                  >
                  >Thus, as far as Egyptian Arabic is concerned, the meaning of *samar* is the
                  >same as was reported to me by all my interviewees.

                  [snip]

                  >Nihal Shahbandar continued her e-mail to me with this response to my
                  >footnote:
                  >
                  >"The question of how true it [what is recited in a *halfat samar*] is,was
                  >best answered from Mr. Bailey " Continuity and and change could mean that
                  >the storyteller could change say 15% of the story...." 15% yeary [sic]
                  >leaves only fiction in 100 years. . . .

                  Well, this might not be good math. The 15% implies that 85% is preserved.
                  So the progression would go:
                  85% of 85% of 85%..... which is an asymptotic curve, not a straight line,
                  and it ends not in 0 but in an infinitesimally small amount (one word or
                  less). Nevertheless, the point is made.

                  >Contrary to Bailey, she apparently understood that continuity leading to
                  >*change* to the point of total fictionalization of stories was not
                  >unexpected over generations in a *haflat samar*, rather than *continuity and
                  >flexibility*, which Bailey argues obtains in a *halfat samar* in order to
                  >preserve the authentic historical core elements of the recitation of
                  >stories. From her point of view, the ultimate purpose of a *haflat samar*
                  >was for entertainment and escape from "the painful present.* . . .
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >I return to your post to me, Bob, where you state the following:
                  >
                  > > Of course, it is also possible that Bailey's definition is filtered through
                  > > rose colored glasses. And, the Haflat Samar that he experienced may not
                  > > have been typical.
                  >
                  >That is true, Bob. It must have been extraordinarily atypical. What I do
                  >not understand is why Bailey never reports in either of his articles that he
                  >consulted with native authorities in the respective *hafalat samar* he
                  >attended to check to see if what he observed and theorized from them was in
                  >fact the case, i.e., the indispensable commitment to preserve the
                  >historical authenticity of oral tradition.

                  I would not advise you to belabor the case, as you have a tendency to do. I
                  think you have plenty of information already, and all you need to do is to
                  present it, without vigorously pounding every single nail into place, but
                  rather allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions.

                  >Furthermore, it strikes me as
                  >strange that he develops his list of flexible and unalterable elements in
                  >story telling from a classroom experiment with students and not from
                  >interviews with native authorities in the Hogg-founded communities. It is
                  >even more striking that his students from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and
                  >Palestine in his classes would "instinctively form the controlling community
                  >and together explain to me the acceptable boundaries for a given story,"
                  >when the people from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt which were interviewed in my
                  >inquiry about *haflat samar* did not report any controlling dynamic
                  >exercised in their experience of *haflat samar*. Nihal Shahbandar implicity
                  >suggests there was none.

                  I agree that his case here is week, but I don't think you need to riddle it
                  with bullet holes. The evidence that you have on the plain meaning of
                  haflat samar, from Egyptian Arabic sources, and confirmed by general
                  Arabists, is sufficient to return the ball to his (or his supporter's)
                  court, if they wish to defend the Bailey thesis. I doubt that they will
                  choose to do so, because your case is much stronger than theirs.


                  >Kelber and Vansina do report that an element of control is exercised in oral
                  >societies to insure that the oral tradition is preserved to support social
                  >identity, and that preventive censorship is exercised on the oral tradition
                  >(whether historically authentic to its originating roots or not) if issues
                  >of social identity in any moment of a community's existence necessitate it.
                  >As I remember, Vansina reports that what may be considered to be authentic
                  >tradition by one community authority may be replaced in a future generation
                  >by an authority who has his own view of what is to be considered authentic,
                  >regardless of whether it has any roots in historicity.
                  >
                  >As an anthropologist, Bob, what do you make of all of this.?

                  I think this last paragraph is much more the important point (emphasis
                  added), and may indeed be salient regarding early Christian communities.

                  I think the focus should shift to identifying what were the salient issues
                  of social identity in early Christian communities. My prediction is that we
                  will find a small but diverse number of potent primary identity issues--
                  somewhere around 3-4-- that identify pre-Constantinian Christian
                  communities, e.g.,
                  * The nature of the person of Jesus (Messiah? Divinity? Humanity?
                  Relationship with God?)
                  * The nature of authority among the disciples and apostles, which
                  eventually includes the nature of authority among the sources of
                  information about Jesus (canon and creed)
                  * Soteriological issues of all kinds, including whether or not Gentiles
                  needed to become Jews in order to be saved-- i.e., what does it mean to be
                  a "Christian", or a follower of The Way? Note that here the focus is on the
                  ordinary person, not the leaders, or the sources, or Jesus himself.
                  Does this help?
                  Bob



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Ken Olson
                  ... haflat samar, from Egyptian Arabic sources, and confirmed by general Arabists, is sufficient to return the ball to his (or his supporter s) court, if they
                  Message 8 of 16 , Sep 11, 2006
                    On September 11, 2006 Bob Schacht wrote:

                    >>The evidence that you have on the plain meaning of
                    haflat samar, from Egyptian Arabic sources, and confirmed by general
                    Arabists, is sufficient to return the ball to his (or his supporter's)
                    court, if they wish to defend the Bailey thesis. I doubt that they will
                    choose to do so, because your case is much stronger than theirs.<<

                    Bob,

                    Your faith in human nature is an inspiration to all young people---(Lucy Van
                    Pelt).

                    Best,

                    Ken

                    Kenneth A. Olson
                    MA, History, University of Maryland
                    PhD Student, Religion, Duke University
                  • Horace Jeffery Hodges
                    Joseph, whose post(s) are you charging with stereotyping and with retrojecting? Jeffery Hodges Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP wrote: I m
                    Message 9 of 16 , Sep 11, 2006
                      Joseph, whose post(s) are you charging with stereotyping and with retrojecting?

                      Jeffery Hodges

                      "Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP" <edmiston@...> wrote:
                      I'm sorry, but there seems to be a fundamental problem with stereotyping Wisconsin Muslims within an intellectual category that can be retrojected two thousand years back into history as representative of those hearers of the original spoken (chanted) gospels.

                      We must realize that the 21st century cannot shed as much light as we would like upon the 1st.

                      ------------------------------------------------------------
                      Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP, Hon. ASLA
                      edmiston@...
                      ------------------------------------------------------------



                      University Degrees:

                      Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
                      (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
                      M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
                      B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

                      Email Address:

                      jefferyhodges@...

                      Blog:

                      http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/

                      Office Address:

                      Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
                      Department of English Language and Literature
                      Korea University
                      136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
                      Seoul
                      South Korea

                      Home Address:

                      Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
                      Sehan Apt. 102-2302
                      Sinnae-dong 795
                      Jungrang-gu
                      Seoul 131-770
                      South Korea

                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Ken Olson
                      Jeffery, If what Joseph says is true, I believe this would mean that Ted need not show that the modern haflat samar is not as Bailey describes it, because
                      Message 10 of 16 , Sep 11, 2006
                        Jeffery,

                        If what Joseph says is true, I believe this would mean that Ted need not show that the modern "haflat samar" is not as Bailey describes it, because modern models may not be projected back to the first century in the way Bailey attempts anyway. Whether that was Joseph's intended meaning or not is another thing entirely. I think Joseph may have missed Ted's actual argument that the "haflat samar" does not function as Bailey says it does in modern times, much less in the first century.

                        Best,

                        Ken

                        Kenneth A. Olson
                        MA, History, University of Maryland
                        PhD Student, Religion, Duke University

                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Horace Jeffery Hodges
                        To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 11:18 PM
                        Subject: [XTalk] Re: Arabists' Challenge to Bailey's *haflat samar* Interpretation


                        Joseph, whose post(s) are you charging with stereotyping and with retrojecting?

                        Jeffery Hodges

                        "Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP" <edmiston@...> wrote:
                        I'm sorry, but there seems to be a fundamental problem with stereotyping Wisconsin Muslims within an intellectual category that can be retrojected two thousand years back into history as representative of those hearers of the original spoken (chanted) gospels.

                        We must realize that the 21st century cannot shed as much light as we would like upon the 1st.

                        ----------------------------------------------------------
                        Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP, Hon. ASLA
                        edmiston@...
                        ----------------------------------------------------------

                        University Degrees:

                        Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
                        (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
                        M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
                        B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

                        Email Address:

                        jefferyhodges@...

                        Blog:

                        http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/

                        Office Address:

                        Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
                        Department of English Language and Literature
                        Korea University
                        136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
                        Seoul
                        South Korea

                        Home Address:

                        Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
                        Sehan Apt. 102-2302
                        Sinnae-dong 795
                        Jungrang-gu
                        Seoul 131-770
                        South Korea

                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • afsegal
                        Do you think someone could review the bidding on this controversy. I have been in the hospital and was unable to see the original exchange. Since no one has
                        Message 11 of 16 , Sep 12, 2006
                          Do you think someone could review the bidding on this controversy. I
                          have been in the hospital and was unable to see the original
                          exchange. Since no one has actually repeated what the positions are,
                          everything since then has been pretty much incomprehensible. What
                          are the different positions on Haflat samar?

                          Best,

                          AFSeg./

                          Alan Segal
                          Barnard College

                          --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Olson" <kenolson101@...>
                          wrote:
                          >
                          > Jeffery,
                          >
                          > If what Joseph says is true, I believe this would mean that Ted
                          need not show that the modern "haflat samar" is not as Bailey
                          describes it, because modern models may not be projected back to the
                          first century in the way Bailey attempts anyway. Whether that was
                          Joseph's intended meaning or not is another thing entirely. I think
                          Joseph may have missed Ted's actual argument that the "haflat samar"
                          does not function as Bailey says it does in modern times, much less
                          in the first century.
                          >
                          > Best,
                          >
                          > Ken
                          >
                          > Kenneth A. Olson
                          > MA, History, University of Maryland
                          > PhD Student, Religion, Duke University
                          >
                          > ----- Original Message -----
                          > From: Horace Jeffery Hodges
                          > To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                          > Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 11:18 PM
                          > Subject: [XTalk] Re: Arabists' Challenge to Bailey's *haflat
                          samar* Interpretation
                          >
                          >
                          > Joseph, whose post(s) are you charging with stereotyping and with
                          retrojecting?
                          >
                          > Jeffery Hodges
                          >
                          > "Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP" <edmiston@...> wrote:
                          > I'm sorry, but there seems to be a fundamental problem with
                          stereotyping Wisconsin Muslims within an intellectual category that
                          can be retrojected two thousand years back into history as
                          representative of those hearers of the original spoken (chanted)
                          gospels.
                          >
                          > We must realize that the 21st century cannot shed as much light
                          as we would like upon the 1st.
                          >
                          > ----------------------------------------------------------
                          > Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP, Hon. ASLA
                          > edmiston@...
                          > ----------------------------------------------------------
                          >
                          > University Degrees:
                          >
                          > Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
                          > (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and
                          Gnostic Texts")
                          > M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
                          > B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
                          >
                          > Email Address:
                          >
                          > jefferyhodges@...
                          >
                          > Blog:
                          >
                          > http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/
                          >
                          > Office Address:
                          >
                          > Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
                          > Department of English Language and Literature
                          > Korea University
                          > 136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
                          > Seoul
                          > South Korea
                          >
                          > Home Address:
                          >
                          > Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
                          > Sehan Apt. 102-2302
                          > Sinnae-dong 795
                          > Jungrang-gu
                          > Seoul 131-770
                          > South Korea
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >
                        • Asegal@aol.com
                          Actually, I take this back. Sorry for bothering the group. As soon as I accessed the website I was able to reread the whole controversy. I made the
                          Message 12 of 16 , Sep 12, 2006
                            Actually, I take this back. Sorry for bothering the group. As soon as I
                            accessed the website I was able to reread the whole controversy. I made the
                            mistake of thinking I was still signed in and that there was no history. Sorry
                            for that.

                            Best,

                            AFSeg./

                            In a message dated 9/12/2006 9:31:33 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                            Asegal@... writes:




                            Do you think someone could review the bidding on this controversy. I
                            have been in the hospital and was unable to see the original
                            exchange. Since no one has actually repeated what the positions are,
                            everything since then has been pretty much incomprehensible. What
                            are the different positions on Haflat samar?

                            Best,

                            AFSeg./

                            Alan Segal
                            Barnard College

                            --- In _crosstalk2@yahoogrocrossta_ (mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com) ,
                            "Ken Olson" <kenolson101@ken>
                            wrote:
                            >
                            > Jeffery,
                            >
                            > If what Joseph says is true, I believe this would mean that Ted
                            need not show that the modern "haflat samar" is not as Bailey
                            describes it, because modern models may not be projected back to the
                            first century in the way Bailey attempts anyway. Whether that was
                            Joseph's intended meaning or not is another thing entirely. I think
                            Joseph may have missed Ted's actual argument that the "haflat samar"
                            does not function as Bailey says it does in modern times, much less
                            in the first century.
                            >
                            > Best,
                            >
                            > Ken
                            >
                            > Kenneth A. Olson
                            > MA, History, University of Maryland
                            > PhD Student, Religion, Duke University
                            >
                            > ----- Original Message -----
                            > From: Horace Jeffery Hodges
                            > To: _crosstalk2@yahoogrocrossta_ (mailto:crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com)
                            > Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 11:18 PM
                            > Subject: [XTalk] Re: Arabists' Challenge to Bailey's *haflat
                            samar* Interpretation
                            >
                            >
                            > Joseph, whose post(s) are you charging with stereotyping and with
                            retrojecting?
                            >
                            > Jeffery Hodges
                            >
                            > "Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP" <edmiston@..e> wrote:
                            > I'm sorry, but there seems to be a fundamental problem with
                            stereotyping Wisconsin Muslims within an intellectual category that
                            can be retrojected two thousand years back into history as
                            representative of those hearers of the original spoken (chanted)
                            gospels.
                            >
                            > We must realize that the 21st century cannot shed as much light
                            as we would like upon the 1st.
                            >
                            > ------------ ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
                            > Joseph T. Edmiston, FAICP, Hon. ASLA
                            > edmiston@...
                            > ------------ ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
                            >
                            > University Degrees:
                            >
                            > Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
                            > (Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and
                            Gnostic Texts")
                            > M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
                            > B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
                            >
                            > Email Address:
                            >
                            > jefferyhodges@ je
                            >
                            > Blog:
                            >
                            > _http://gypsyscholarhttp://gypsyschttp_
                            (http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/)
                            >
                            > Office Address:
                            >
                            > Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
                            > Department of English Language and Literature
                            > Korea University
                            > 136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
                            > Seoul
                            > South Korea
                            >
                            > Home Address:
                            >
                            > Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
                            > Sehan Apt. 102-2302
                            > Sinnae-dong 795
                            > Jungrang-gu
                            > Seoul 131-770
                            > South Korea
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >







                            Alan F. Segal
                            Professor of Religion
                            Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies
                            Barnard College, Columbia University
                            3009 Broadway
                            219 Milbank Hall
                            New York City NY 10027-6598

                            asegal@...
                            asegal@...


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Theodore Weeden
                            ... Thank you, John. I hope to be able to get it finished and in publication. ... Thank you for drawing my attention to Naddaff s work and the Miquel quote
                            Message 13 of 16 , Sep 12, 2006
                              John Poirier wrote on September 08, 2006:

                              > Ted,
                              >
                              > I look forward to reading your finished article.

                              Thank you, John. I hope to be able to get it finished and in publication.

                              > Your reference to the *samar* roots of the 1001 Nights reminded me of a
                              > book
                              > that I read years ago: Sandra Naddaff's *Arabesque: Narrative Structure
                              > and
                              > the Aesthetics of Repetition in 1001 Nights* (Evanston, IL: Northwestern
                              > Univ. Press, 1991). On p. 65 of that book, Naddaff writes:
                              >
                              > One should begin at the beginning, in this case, outsdide the text,
                              > and
                              > remember that the earliest version of the *1001 Nights* was an aurally
                              > intended work perrformed before a live audience. André Miquel notes
                              > that it was possibly told as part of the *samar*, "cette pratique
                              > quasi
                              > institutionnêlle de la culture arabo-musulmane classique: la
                              > conversation
                              > nocturne. . . . Le *samar* est d'ordinaire ce qui clôt la journée
                              > active,
                              > avant le repos nocturne, et l'on a toutes raisons de penser que c'est
                              > de
                              > ce type-là que relève le *samar* du conteur, qu'on l'imagine au milieu
                              > d'un groupe restreint ou sur la place publique." The storyteller
                              > nightly
                              > tells his story about a woman who nightly tells her stories and who,
                              > like
                              > him, depends upon the approval of her audience in order to continue
                              > the narrative act and, ultimately, in order to stay alive. The
                              > pattern
                              > persists.
                              >
                              > The French quotation is from André Miquel, *Ajib et Gharib: Un conte des
                              > "Mille et une nuits"* (Paris, 1978) 225-26.

                              Thank you for drawing my attention to Naddaff's work and the Miquel quote
                              with reference to *samar*. This all is consistent with what Arabic
                              authorities and Middle East people I have interviewed have shared with me
                              with respect to the historical character and purpose of *haflat samar*.

                              > As for how or why Bailey fudges the description of what a *samar* is, I
                              > think that you're seeing an almost subconscious mechanism by which the
                              > proponents of a particular theory smuggle their views into their offered
                              > readings of a body of knowledge that they calculate their audience to hold
                              > no expertise in.

                              [snip]

                              I am not prepared to say why and how Bailey arrived at a different
                              interpretation of the character and purpose of a *haflat samar* than appears
                              to be widely held by others. Naddaff and Miquel are yet two more examples
                              of this widely held view. For all the reasons I have cited in posts
                              regarding this thread, it is difficult for me to understand how oral
                              societies in Southern Egypt would, per Bailey, hold such a radically
                              different and extraordinarily atypical view of their *hafalat samar*,
                              namely, as almost nightly meetings with the indispensable agenda of
                              preserving the historical authenticity of their oral tradition about John
                              Hogg, their missionary founder. Largely illiterate, it is difficult for me
                              to understand how such societies would draw a connection, as Bailey does,
                              between the Hebrew *shamar* ("preserve") and the Arabic *samar*, and thus
                              arrived at an idiosyncratic meaning of *haflat samar* as a "party for
                              preservation," per Bailey.

                              > This happens all the time when preachers, with no seminary
                              > education and no facility in Hebrew or Greek beyond their ability to use
                              > Strong's concordance, smuggle their pet readings into the biblical
                              > lexicson,
                              > creating ridiculously long and theologically technical definitions of
                              > Hebrew
                              > and Greek words There is no doubt that they are smuggling their views
                              > into
                              > those words, yet I would venture that very few of them that do that sort
                              > of
                              > thing are at all aware of what they are doing. It's as if one side of
                              > their
                              > brain is fooling the other side. (Unfortunately, his sort of thing also
                              > happens at the highest levels of academia--e.g., it is the most generous
                              > explanation for the postliberals' revisionist history of hermeneutics.
                              > All
                              > one needs to do to deflate Hans Frei's claims about pre-Enlightenment
                              > hermeneutics is to read the hermeneutical programs of pre-Enlightenment
                              > figures.)

                              What you describe can and does happen, unfortunately. Not only should we
                              be cognizant and wary of such with respect to others, but we need to remain
                              vigilant and self-critically honest with respect to ourselves on this issue.

                              Ted Weeden
                              Theodore J. Weeden, Sr,
                              Fairport, NY
                              Retired
                              Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University
                              Theodore
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